DogsCatsFish & AquariumsReptiles & AmphibiansRodentsRabbitsExotic PetsBirdsFarm Animals as Pets

Five Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds Great With Kids

Updated on October 23, 2016
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr Mark is a veterinarian in Brazil. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

There is no such thing as a totally hypoallergenic dog, but there are a lot of breeds that are less likely to cause problems for kids who are prone to allergies.

Anywhere from 10-15% of kids are allergic to dogs, but most of them have problems with dog dander, not dog hair. Since the dander is usually stuck to hair, however, dogs that do not shed much are the least likely to cause allergic reactions.

Some of the dog breeds that are great with kids but shed a lot, like the Golden Retriever, are also more likely to cause allergic reactions. Dogs that drool a lot are also more likely to cause problems.

Some studies have found that kids exposed to a dog early in their lives are less likely to become allergic, but this is still being researched.

Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan studied 60 dog breeds and found no “hypoallergenic” dogs that actually have less allergens. Groups like the AKC disagree with this and point out that a lot of dogs are great for kids suffering from allergies.

Here are five breeds that are both great with kids and for people who are allergic. Below I go into more detail on each of them.

  1. Portuguese Water Dog
  2. Bichon Frise
  3. Miniature Schnauzer
  4. West Highland White Terrier
  5. Shih Tzu

Portuguese Water Dog

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is Bo, President Obama's dogA Portuguese Water DogA PWD at the seashore
This is Bo, President Obama's dog
This is Bo, President Obama's dog | Source
A Portuguese Water Dog
A Portuguese Water Dog | Source
A PWD at the seashore
A PWD at the seashore | Source

This is probably one of the most famous dogs in America at the moment, despite being so uncommon. They do not shed much, are good with kids, and are one of the best.

The US president Barack Obama decided to buy one of these dogs for his daughter who suffers from allergies. The girl is able to put up with the dog and the president has become a spokesman for the breed.

Details and Breed Specifics

The Portuguese Water Dog (PWD) used to be known mostly along the coast of Portugal, where he was used to help fisherman retrieve nets, herd fish, and sometimes swim to shore.

He is about 20 to 25 kilos (anywhere from 40 to 60 pounds), a medium-sized dog. Some dogs are curly-haired and some dogs have wavy hair, but none of them shed much.

They need to be groomed, and it can be expensive, similar to a Standard Poodle.

Health

Portuguese Water Dogs are prone to hip dysplasia so if you find a puppy, make sure his parents were x-rayed and certified prior to reproducing.

Some of them will have eyelid problems and develop cataracts or retinal atrophy (PRA). Other health problems they might have are uncommon.

Life Expectancy

PWDs live about 12 years. If you keep them bathed and clipped, provide obedience training, and provide them with a job or plenty of activity, they make a great pet both good with kids and easy on the allergies.

Bichon Frisé

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A Bichon puppy looking hypoallergenic.A young Bichon Frisé.The Bichon Frisé does not have to be clipped like this, but it is cute.
A Bichon puppy looking hypoallergenic.
A Bichon puppy looking hypoallergenic. | Source
A young Bichon Frisé.
A young Bichon Frisé. | Source
The Bichon Frisé does not have to be clipped like this, but it is cute.
The Bichon Frisé does not have to be clipped like this, but it is cute. | Source

Before the President’s decision to get a Portuguese Water Dog, the Bichon Frisé was the dog most likely to be suggested when someone said they were looking for a hypoallergenic dog breed good with kids.

Details and Breed Specifics

The Bichon is small (less that 10 kilos, or about 20 pounds), white, happy, and cute. (If you do not care for that silly Bichon Frisé haircut, they can also be clipped short about every six weeks and kept in a “puppy cut”.)

They are usually happy to go anywhere and be part of the activities, and have lots of energy to play with the kids.

Health

There are some health issues to be aware of but generally these dogs have a good life expectancy. Some Bichons are prone to liver shunts, some of them develop autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA), and when they get older they are prone to several different forms of cancer.

Life Expectancy

If they do not develop any of those diseases they can live a long time, up to about 15 years.

Keeping them bathed, brushed, and clipped during that life will allow them to be very clean, reducing the dander in your house.

Miniature Schnauzer

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A Miniature Schnauzer puppy.A Miniature Schnazuer puppy pausing..for a sec.When Miniature Schnauzers get long hair, they need to be clipped.
A Miniature Schnauzer puppy.
A Miniature Schnauzer puppy. | Source
A Miniature Schnazuer puppy pausing..for a sec.
A Miniature Schnazuer puppy pausing..for a sec. | Source
When Miniature Schnauzers get long hair, they need to be clipped.
When Miniature Schnauzers get long hair, they need to be clipped. | Source

Miniature Schnauzers are one of the most popular breeds in the world because they do not shed much and are good for people with allergies. They are also great with kids, make excellent watch dogs, and besides that, they are really cute!

Details and Breed Specifics

They usually weigh about 5 to 8 kilos (10 to 18 pounds) and look impressive with their wiry beard and mustache, short ears, and spirited watchdog attitude. They do like to bark at strangers, but when push comes to shove they usually back down and do not bite.

Health

Miniature Schnauzers have health problems if they are fed a diet that has a lot of fat. They have a problem called hyperlipidemia (high fat in the blood) and are prone to pancreatitis. They might also develop eye problems, bladder stones, and diabetes.

Life Expectancy

If they stay healthy they live about 12 years, and sometimes a lot longer. Their hair needs to be plucked or clipped short, but if they are bathed and their beards are kept clean they do not spread a lot of allergens in the environment.

A Miniature Schnauzer at the beach.
A Miniature Schnauzer at the beach.

West Highland White Terrier

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Westies love toys!Westies are forced to grow up small and cute.This little Westie lives in Russia. They are popular all over the world.
Westies love toys!
Westies love toys! | Source
Westies are forced to grow up small and cute.
Westies are forced to grow up small and cute. | Source
This little Westie lives in Russia. They are popular all over the world.
This little Westie lives in Russia. They are popular all over the world. | Source

Westies are great for a lot of reasons, and part of their popularity is due to the fact that they do not shed much (and thus are as hypoallergenic as a dog can be), are good with kids that treat them with respect. They are also a lot of fun to have around the house.

Details and Breed Specifics

These dogs are small, usually about 7 or 8 kilos (15 to 20 pounds), playful, and protective, like most terriers are!

Health

Like all purebred dogs, Westies do have some health problems. Some dogs develop a disease called “Westie jaw” where the jaw thickens and they are unable to swallow normally. Others are prone to allergies, and a few will have a skin disease that looks like an allergy when it appears. Most other problems are less common.

Life Expectancy

If a Westie does not have these problems, she can usually live 14 or 15 years.

They do need to be bathed, and their outer coat should be clipped, but if they are trained and socialized the Westie will be a nice looking dog that does not spread a lot of dander.

A West Highland White Terrier, a Westie with his owner.
A West Highland White Terrier, a Westie with his owner.

Shih Tzu

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Shih Tzu coat is long but clean and does not tend to spread allergens.A Shih Tzu puppy.
The Shih Tzu coat is long but clean and does not tend to spread allergens.
The Shih Tzu coat is long but clean and does not tend to spread allergens. | Source
A Shih Tzu puppy.
A Shih Tzu puppy. | Source

The Shih Tzu is a dog that doesn't shed too much and also appreciates interactions with kids.

Details and Breed Specifics

Shih Tzus are small, only about 4-7 kilos (about 8 to 16 pounds), have long silky hair when not cut like a puppy, and always have an underbite. They are more closely related to wolves than most breeds of dog, but have some very unwolf-like health issues.

Health

Some of them are prone to back diseases and breathing problems because of their unusual bodies and short noses. Others may have hypothyroidism and the weight gain and skin diseases associated with that disease.

Life Expectancy

If they are healthy, however, they usually live about 13 or 14 years. You can keep their coat long and brushed, clip them short like a puppy. Bathe them frequently and they make a good dog with less potential for causing allergies.

Besides that, playing with kids is natural for a Shih Tzu.

A Shih tzu with a long coat.
A Shih tzu with a long coat.

Some Other Hypoallergenic Breeds

The Maltese is almost hypoallergenic but not the best with kids.
The Maltese is almost hypoallergenic but not the best with kids.

There are several breeds that are recommended for people suffering for allergies but that are not good with children. One of my favorites is the Maltese.

They have fine hair and are relatively clean but can be frail and do not like to be pulled on and tossed around by small kids; some dogs are prone to bite if overwrought.

Yorkshire Terriers are the same way. Kerry Blue Terriers do not shed much but also do not like small kids. The Poodle is sometimes a good choice, and sometimes is not. Poodles certainly do not have the glowing recommendation of a kid-friendly dog like the Miniature Schnauzer.

Where to Find a Dog

You might find the breed of dog you are looking for at a local shelter, and be sure to check Petfinder.com to see if any dogs are available in your area. If you do find a dog, try to take it home for a day or two and find out just how hypoallergenic it is.

Do not buy a puppy from a pet shop or some internet site that promotes puppy mills. A responsible breeder will take the puppy back if the child is not able to live with him in the home. Be sure to discuss this before taking the puppy home.

If the dog causes an allergic reaction, do not give up. A perfect hypoallergenic dog may still be out there.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 4 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

      If your son wants a pretty tough dog that will roam around in the garden with him, a Schnauzer is a great choice. They are smart dogs and will probably be okay with the chickens. (One of my dogs even looks at our free range rabbits and does not try to kill them.)

      I really like Maltese. If he wants a house dog, they are great dogs.

      Good luck.

    • profile image

      Susan Dolp 4 months ago

      Hi I have a 6 year old son with asthma who would like a dog. I work part-time and think we could take the dog for up to an hourly walk each day and allow it to roam in the garden during the day. We have chickens too. Which breed would you recommend? Thank you for your help

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      That is great to hear, bedbugabscond. Too many dogs end up abandoned because people rush in and buy without thinking of everything. I am glad I could help a little! Good luck.

    • Bedbugabscond profile image

      Melody Trent 4 years ago from United States

      I am going to get a dog, but I am going to take one year to research and figure out how to get a friend for life. I would have never considered these breeds before reading this, but they are going on the list now!

    • Highland Terrier profile image

      Highland Terrier 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Excellent hub. And very informative for a lot of people.

      You knowledge of dogs is awe inspiring.

      Keep up the good work please.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks Parallels. Lots of good dog breeds out there, so it is always just a matter of finding out who is best for any specific job. My kids (adults now) would have voted for the Maltese!

    • Parallels profile image

      Parallels 4 years ago

      You can tell you put a lot of effort into this hub. Very informative and cool breeds!

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks for the vote and comment, barbat79!

      Bill, she sounds like a real treasure. I am allergic to cats and have only found one breed (the Siberian) that does not have the allergen, so you are fortunate that there are a lot of good dogs out there who don´t cause problems. Sounds like you found her too. Thanks for voting, commenting, and sharing this!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi DrMark. Once again you hit the nail on the head. We got our Shih Tzu because of my allergies (and my kids wanted her) and I haven't had a problem with her in 11 years. She is great with everyone and just loves people. We do keep her hair short and my wife bathes her every couple of week. She has the trademark underbite and those front paws when sitting point out to the side. She still runs around like a puppy at times and we are hoping that she will be with us for many more years. Great hub, very useful for parents looking for a pet. Voted up, shared, etc.

    • barbat79 profile image

      B A Tobin 4 years ago from Connnecticut

      Extremely informative! Thank you once again! Thumbs up for you!

      I am sure that is common to receive in your thorough writing! I look forward to more. Thanks!

    Click to Rate This Article